A couple of years back, Ghana divided many of its districts further, going from 138 districts to 170. The problem however was that while district names were defined, it was often not clear what communities were included in each district. As part of a national panel survey by Yale and ISSER, I had the opportunity to travel to a good number of districts, often sympathising with my industrious survey team encountering the challenge of first figuring out if we had actually come to the right district; and then, having to identify communities that we wanted to reach in those district. Initially, I thought the fault lay with us, that we did not have the latest lists and wondered how it was possible that district boundaries could not be clearly demarcated, at least on paper. Turns out, there was general confusion about this, even among the district and regional governments. The news report about the 2010 census results also mentions that –
Some districts also had their boundaries poorly defined and therefore GSS would not be able to release the district level results and only the regional results would be released.
Needless to say, data collection for the Yale-ISSER panel survey was tricky enough under normal circumstances. Attempting to collect community-level or district-level data amidst this general confusion of boundaries was even trickier. Trying to collect any electoral or fiscal data from these districts was a complete nightmare (from both the newly formed districts, as well as the districts that had been divided to eke out the new ones), since they often did not have their books in order and in some cases, had not yet appointed officials to take over key positions. Therefore, the 2010 census is key, even if the district-level data is released after a lag. In the subsequent rounds of the panel survey and in other future studies, we will have a reliable list of districts to sample from…until they increase the number again, that is…
Feb 3rd update: The Ghana Statistical Service could not keep to its plan of announcing results on Jan 31st. There has been lots of noise about this in the last four days…there is a fresh announcement that the census results will be released today